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Environmental and social sustainability in Producer Organizations’ strategies

Adele Coppola (Department of Agricultural Sciences, Agricultural Economics and Policy Group, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy)
Sara Ianuario (Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 7 August 2017



The purpose of this paper is to analyze the role Italian Producer Organizations (POs) play in implementing sustainability actions in the fruit and vegetable sector. In particular, it aimed at verifying whether environmental actions reveal different models with respect to implementation of sustainability and at analyzing the relationship between environmental strategies and specific POs’ characteristics.


The work is based on a field survey carried out by submitting a questionnaire to POs. Collected data were processed by means of exploratory data and multivariate analysis techniques. A cluster analysis was used to classify POs with respect to their ability/will to translate views into sustainability actions.


Three different groups were identified with reference to the involvement in ethical and environmental actions. Results show that POs’ strategies often include interlinked economic and environmental objectives. In particular, product quality improvement often goes with the promotion of environmentally friendly techniques, while other environmental actions respond to a reduction costs rather than to a sustainability strategy.

Research limitations/implications

Only 38 out of 300 POs returned the questionnaire. Because of the small sample, the analysis has only an exploratory nature and aims at giving a first insight on how sustainability issues are intended and implemented in the agri-food sector.


Most works have analyzed environmental strategies at the company level. This study focused on POs in the agri-food sector as they can also represent the drivers of a sustainability pattern involving their members.



Coppola, A. and Ianuario, S. (2017), "Environmental and social sustainability in Producer Organizations’ strategies", British Food Journal, Vol. 119 No. 8, pp. 1732-1747.



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